The true story of Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister
of Great Britain, who was both beloved and reviled by her people.
The Iron Lady (2011)
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Written by Abi Morgan
Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman,
Alexandra Roach, Harry Lloyd, Anthony Head, Richard E. Grant
Oscar Wins - Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Makeup
Margaret Thatcher is one of the most controversial political figures of the 20th century. She was the first female British Prime Minister, an admirable accomplishment. But her policies were questionable. She tanked the economy, she took England to war with Argentina over the Falklands, and her adamant conservative views led her to implement unfair tax policies that favored the rich and hurt the poor. While this movie touches on a lot of her mistakes, it's overwhelmingly positive, and therefore hollow. In fact, the only thing this film has going for it is Meryl Streep's incredible, Oscar-winning performance.
The storytelling is so bizarre. It almost feels like a "Thatcher's Greatest Hits" reel. We're framed with an older, senile Margaret, who is constantly hallucinating her dead husband Denis (Broadbent). Denis keeps reminding her how awesome a job she did as PM, and then we watch Margaret think back on various stages of her political career, from starting out at Oxford to resigning in shame after her party abandoned her. In truth, Thatcher may have started out a decent leader but she grew arrogant and pig-headed, even going so far as to openly embarrass members of her own party. But by showing her as an old, defeated woman, we suddenly have sympathy for her. It's a dirty trick.
Streep is unrecognizable as Thatcher, and she definitely earned that third Oscar for this performance. But the movie around her isn't very good. Like I said, it feels like a highlight reel of Margaret Thatcher's greatest achievements. But the film barely touches on her failures, showcasing her as a one-dimensional figure who could only be great. And that's just not fair. I don't think this film is a great representation of who Margaret Thatcher was as a person. I think it skews in an insincere direction.